No Joke! The National Comedy Center is Pretty Amazing.

If you’re looking for things to do in Jamestown, New York – there’s one place that should be at the very top of your list. The National Comedy Center is one of the most well designed and thought out museums in the entire country.

I’ll admit, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I was invited to visit the center, which is part museum, part interactive experience. Truth is, I was only visiting Jamestown to learn about the town’s connections with Lucille Ball. And honestly, my expectations for the National Comedy Center were pretty low. But even if my expectations had been high – I would have still been blown away. Is the National Comedy Center worth visiting? Absolutely, 100 percent it is worth your time and money. This place is amazing.

Imagine the look on my face when the first thing I see, as a life long fan of Johnny Carson, are the actual curtains he walked through on The Tonight Show set. Talk about first impressions! All of the center’s exhibits and displays evoked memories or smiles. How could you not feel happy looking at one of Betty White’s outfits from her time on The Golden Girls? Who wouldn’t hear the words “I get no respect” as you stare at Rodney Dangerfield’s trademark suit and tie?

All around the National Comedy Center are reminders of America’s greatest humorists and even some of the jokes themselves. Remember the “puffy shirt” from the TV show, Seinfeld? They have it. You can look at handwritten notes by Joan Rivers, one where she outlines how to deal with hecklers in the audience. Even a script from Toy Story that belonged to Don Rickles – sits on display next to – what else? Mr. Potato Head.

Mr Potato Head
Don Rickles’ Toy Story script alongside a Mr. Potato Head

What sets this place apart from a typical museum are the interactive experiences that guests are encouraged to try out as they explore the center’s galleries. On one wall, you can try to imitate the facial expressions of famous comedians like Don Knotts. Across the room, visitors can relax on sofas and watch clips from well known television sit-coms.

There’s a display dedicated to late night television where guests can look through a vintage studio camera and get a behind the scenes look at the stages from The Tonight Show or Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

As humor comes in other forms besides movies and television – there are sections dedicated to political satire, sound effects, cartoons, and even stand-up. George Carlin’s daughter donated her late father’s comedy archives to the center – which make up a large corner display. You can see a filing cabinet of his notes; an outfit he wore on stage; and various one of a kind memorabilia.

Ron Burgundy Anchorman Suit
Ron Burgundy’s Anchorman Suit on display at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY

In the basement of the center is an adults only collection known as “the blue room”. As you walk through the door, you’re greeted with every “dirty” word under the sun. The collections here focus on how comedy can push the envelope and on topics that may make you blush.

The National Comedy Center is located in Jamestown, New York which was the hometown of Lucille Ball – one the most iconic names in American comedy. Visitors can purchase dual tickets to visit the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum down the street.

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